Friday, April 9, 2010


Title: Thirsty

Series: Stand-alone

Author: Tracey Bateman

Genre: Adult Vampire

Excerpt from the prologue of Thirsty:

Thick bass blared through amped-up speakers and drew Markus from his slumber. In the murky deep of his cave, he opened his eyes, instantly awake. His keen ears picked out the voices of eager girls and boasting boys. Dancing, whispering, giggling. Mating rituals. They were at least half a mile away, but the sound carried easily. Too easily for his liking.

He shoved out a full breath and angled to his feet. In the obscurity of his cramped quarters he stooped, unable to stand to his full height without scuffing his head against the top of the cave.

The heady scent of bodies brimming with life grazed the edge of his senses, guiding him to the mouth of the cave and just beyond. Flesh and blood mingled with sweat, campfire, roasting hot dogs, and booze. The converging smells dizzied him. And annoyed him.

A recovering alcoholic returns home to find sobriety and discovers a town terrorized by strange murders.

The Craft: First of all, despite how the descriptions might read, this is not a horror novel. It does not carry the same levels of darkness, desperation, or overbearing evil that gives horror it’s no-way-out feel. Thirsty isn’t even that scary. Rather it reads more like women’s fiction with a twist of suspense and the supernatural.

That said, Thirsty is a strongly plotted novel with a complex cast of characters. Even those who could easily be dislikeable are cast in such a light as to gain reader understanding.

The Content: On one hand, Thirsty is a powerful story about alcoholism, enslavement of addictions in general, the cumulative force of decisions, living one day at a time, and redemption.

However, the vampire aspect leaves room for some concern.

Overall, the topic is pretty well handled. The vampires, as the author points out in the letter to the reader, creates a powerful metaphor for addiction and especially alcoholism.

In addition, one of the two vampires is portrayed as wholly evil, while vampirism itself is largely treated as a genetic defect. This seems quite plausible with all that can go wrong with the human body and conforms to the thought that blood-drinking was not in God’s original design. And if this had been the extent of the vampires in the book, I wouldn’t have had any problems.

But the vampirism doesn’t end there. If this is a genetic disease only, how then do you explain the long life, lack of aging, and the inability to die except under very specific conditions? Even that, though, would be tolerable if it weren’t for the second vampire.

He’s very much a mixed bag of good and evil. No problem there. You wouldn’t expect anything different from most human characters (and he is treated as human in essence), and that makes him a great parallel for the protagonist. For example, I’m not fond of his predator, stalking tendencies, but they mostly seemed to be shown for what they are.

Rather, the problem arises with the “necessity” of blood-drinking and, more concerning, his justification for it—basically he primary feeds off of animals and only humans who commit evil crimes (that is, the ones who deserve it in his eyes). It could even appear that such self-imposed limitations makes him almost righteous compared to the other vampire.

But that does not make drinking blood right. Yet it is never rebuked as far as I saw in the book. In a culture where such justification is promoted and the sacredness of blood shrugged off, this bothers me greatly. How many readers, even Christian ones, will recognize these things for the evil they are? So I wish some distinction had been made, some counterbalance offered, even if only a couple of lines. (For more on the sacredness of blood, vampires, and the Christian faith, click here.)

Beyond this, there only a couple other things to note. Both drinking and drunkenness appear in the book—it does deal with a recovering alcoholic—and the drunkenness is rebuked.

Also there is minimal sexual content. Most appears within the context of a husband and wife looking back at their marriage. While not great in detail and appropriately handled, the text makes very clear what occurred and needs to be noted for those still outside the marriage bond.

Summary: Thirsty is a mixed bag. In many ways this solidly written novel has a powerful message of healing and starting life afresh. Some stuff with the vampires, however, causes concern. On one hand, this book could provide a good bridge between secular and Christian media. But it could also muddy the waters farther with a topic where few seem to understand what Scripture really says about it and where little discernment is applied.

Therefore, Thirsty is not for those under 16, and I recommend great caution and much discernment be used, especially those into the vampire legends.

Rating: Writing—4, Content—2, Overall—2.5 out of 5 stars

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